We respond, or campaign against, planning proposals that would have a significant impact on the built or natural environment of the greater Cambridge area. In such cases we are keen to work alongside local residents and local groups such as Resident's Associations, Parish Council's and local campaign groups. 

We oppose, in principle, many of the small-scale development practices which either individually, or cumulatively, detract from the quality of a neighbourhood or village. For example, the practices of “garden grabbing”, demolishing perfectly good housing or converting community buildings, such as pubs, into flats in order to realise profits.

We are aware that such practices are increasingly common in the Cambridge area, and we are keen that they are addressed. Our challenge is a lack of capacity – as a small, local charity we are dependent on the contribution of our volunteers and one part-time member of staff. With the rate of development in the Cambridge area, we are already over-stretched in trying to keep pace with those proposals which will have the biggest impact on Cambridge or which effect designated buildings or landscapes. We would love to have the capacity to get involved in other proposals but the reality is that we have to prioritise.

Our approach has been, and will continue to be, to seek to influence amendments to the planning policy that allows inappropriate development. For example, the way to stop garden grabbing is to ensure that the local planning framework includes a policy that specifically precludes this practice. This would provide the lever to prevent such applications being approved. This is the way we work.

An example of this was our success in stopping the conversion of pubs into flats. Since 2010, about one pub a month in Cambridge was being sold for conversion, resulting in the loss of an important asset to many local communities. Rather than fight each individual case, we campaigned for a change in the City’s planning policies. With the Council, we produced a rigorous process for assessing the viability of pubs and for community ownership with criteria that must be met if change-of-use is to be agreed – the result has been that only a handful of pubs closed in 2017.

For those inappropriate local applications that still emerge despite our best endeavours, the best way for a local community to oppose this is through its local Residents Association or Parish Council, which can take the matter up with locally elected councillors.

We will lodge an objection in support, if the local community is able to present a rational and objective justification for opposing the development. Click here to read some of our planning responses.

We are able to give informal advice about opposing a planning application and also on the information that we would need from you in order to enable us to respond to an application. The best way to do so is by calling 01223 243830 ext 206 or emailing [email protected].